New Hampshire Democrats believe the country is on the wrong track, ending the First in the Nation presidential primary is the wrong move, and their party is about to nominate the wrong candidate.
That was the finding of a new NHJournal/co-efficient poll of 1,016 likely Democratic primary voters. And while the one member of Congress who stepped up to challenge Biden, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), is still polling in single digits, the poll also showed he has room to grow among Granite State Democrats.
Asked if Democrats should renominate Joe Biden in 2024 or pick a different candidate, just 39 percent of Granite State Democratic primary voters wanted to stick with Biden. Another 45 percent said it is time for another Democrat; 16 percent were undecided.
“That’s pretty much how I feel,” one New Hampshire Democratic campaign operative told NHJournal. “We think he’s done a good job, but now we want to move on.”
Phillips told NHJournal the poll shows Granite State Democrats are open to an alternative to President Biden.
“The fact that a sitting president is below 40 percent while we have been running for only a few weeks and are gaining traction is proof that voters are ready for change. I’m sure that as I continue to introduce myself and outline my vision for a more affordable America, we’ll see these numbers quickly rise further,” Dean said.
And if the First in the Nation primary were held today, just 38 percent would write in Biden (he refused to allow his name to appear on the New Hampshire ballot), while 39 percent said they were undecided. Both Phillips and Marianne Williamson had nine percent support.
“This is an incredibly positive poll for our campaign,” said Phillips advisor Jeff Weaver. “Large swaths of the Democratic electorate want someone else. This is particularly true of young voters where Joe Biden has much higher name ID and yet Dean Phillips has essentially the same net positives.
“Given that the campaign just went up on TV yesterday, we are very encouraged by this poll and the reception we are getting on the ground.”
Biden’s poor performance among members of his own party in the new NHJournal/co-efficient poll reflects the findings of a St. Anselm College poll released earlier this week. Just half of Granite State Democrats said they were voting for Biden, with “unsure” in second place at 29 percent. Phillips was at 10 percent in that poll, and Williamson was at seven percent.
None of the New Hampshire Democrats who spoke to NHJournal about the poll results would do so on the record. But they all acknowledged the numbers are, as one put it, “awful” for an incumbent president among members of his own party.
“But we’re going to stick with Biden because — who else? Definitely not Kamala [Harris],” one Democrat said.
Why? One reason may be the respondents’ answer to the “most important issue” question: “Defeating Trump.” Of the 10 issues on the list, 47 percent picked stopping Trump as their top priority. “Women’s rights” was the only other issue in the double digits (12 percent).
Several noted that while Phillips’ number was low, so was his “unfavorable” number (12 percent). “He’s been getting beaten up a lot, especially by Democrats in Congress. He hasn’t had much friendly media coverage, but voters are still open to the idea,” one Democratic strategist said. “If he can get a message and get it out, these voters sound like they are open to another candidate.”
In particular, if Biden continues to struggle in the head-to-head polling match-ups with Trump. Several Granite State Democrats acknowledged that if members of their party begin to believe Biden will likely lose to Trump, all bets are off.
“I do worry about the enthusiasm gap,” one strategist said. “Trump has a fired-up cult on his side. Our side only has anti-Trump passion. I hope that’s enough.”
New Hampshire Democrats also disagree with Biden about moving the First in the Nation primary to another state, though they aren’t particularly passionate about it. Just 43 percent said the Granite State has “earned its place” at the front of the line, while another 43 percent said they don’t care either way.
Just 15 percent agreed with Biden that moving it back on the calendar in the name of diversity was “the right thing to do.”
And Democrats overwhelmingly support (67-18 percent) the proposal advanced by Republican Nikki Haley of requiring mental competency tests for politicians older than 75 years old. Haley also made another appearance in the poll — about one percent of respondents said they were planning to write in her name, not Biden’s.
But the big takeaway, another political professional told NHJournal: “He’s got 62 percent of his own primary voters who are either opposed to nominating him or aren’t sure. There’s no upside to that.”